FDNY's New Fireboat, the Three Forty Three: Vehicle Operation Apparatus

FDNY's New Fireboat, the Three Forty Three

The Fire Department of New York (FDNY) and New York City have gained a powerful memorial to the 343 members of the FDNY who died in the Sept. 11 attacks on the city. A new fireboat, named the Three Forty Three in tribute to the fallen, will help ensure the safety of the citizens and firefighters of New York.

A Fitting Tribute
Launched from Eastern Shipbuilding in Panama City, Fla., on Sept. 11, 2009, the Three Forty Three is assigned to Marine 1, stationed on the Hudson River on the west side of Manhattan.

The fireboat, which replaces the 50-plus-year-old fireboat John D. McKean, arrived in New York Harbor on April 30 to the sights of a water display by other vessels in the FDNY Marine Division. Then on May 26, the fireboat was commissioned during a tribute ceremony at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, just hours after it led the parade of boats up the Hudson River to kick off Fleet Week.

An identical new fireboat, the Fire Fighter II, will be stationed on Staten Island, where it will replace the 50-year-old Fire Fighter later this year.

These impressive new vessels are part of the FDNY Marine Fleet, which is responsible for more than 450 miles of coastline and harbors. Like the fireboats they’ve replaced, the Three Forty Three and Fire Fighter II will be used for emergencies on the water, including rescues and fires.

“On September 11, we all saw how important fireboats are to New York City. The FDNY Marine Division rescued and transported hundreds of citizens and provided the only supply of water to battle the fires at the World Trade Center for many days,” says former New York City Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta. “The Three Forty Three will significantly improve our ability to respond to emergencies in and around New York harbor.”

Bigger, Better, Safer
At 140 feet long and weighing 500 tons, the Three Forty Three and Fire Fighter II are the world’s largest fireboats, with a maximum speed of 18 knots (just under 21 mph) and the capability of pumping 50,000 gallons of water per minute—nearly 30,000 gallons more than their predecessors and the greatest pumping capacity of any fireboat in the world.

Each state-of-the-art boat cost $27 million, which was covered in large part by $54 million in grants from the Department of Homeland Security.

The FDNY’s new fireboats have been specifically designed to detect and protect those on board from chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear agents. Each contains a pressurized area that filters the air supply using special charcoal and high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, enabling firefighters and crewmembers to operate in hostile environments. The fireboats also include a decontamination shower, a triage area and a first-aid station.

The new boats include other groundbreaking features:

  • A forward ballast tank can lower the boat in the water to bring the deck level with larger ferries that operate in the waters around New York City.
  • The pilothouse is configured to allow the captain a 360-degree view of an operation—which is handy when maneuvering the vessel through tight quarters.
  • Ship officers will be able to monitor and direct fire operations from a command and control area, with the aid of remote cameras and state-of-the-art communication equipment.

“[These are] the most technically advanced fireboats in the world,” says New York City Fire Commissioner Salvatore J. Cassano. “The name of the Three Forty Three will remind each and every person who sees it in action protecting the Port of New York and the surrounding waterways, and every firefighter who operates aboard it, of the supreme sacrifice made by so many of our members on September 11, ensuring that we never forget.”

The Three Forty Three and Fire Fighter II are perhaps the most fitting tributes to the 343 fallen members of the FDNY, because they provide powerful tools and equipment designed to better safeguard firefighters, citizens and New York City itself.